Tonight I'm cooking up a batch of rhubarb sauce. The obvious ingredients in rhubarb sauce are rhubarb and sugar (rhubarb is so tart most people consider it inedible without a lot of sugar!). Less obvious, but also important, are the spices. Cinnamon? Nutmeg? And maybe (if you want your rhubarb to have even more bite) a pinch of ginger.
But there's one more ingredient I always put in my rhubarb sauce. No one ever tastes it, but it's very important. Salt. No one ever tastes my rhubarb sauce and says, "This is too salty." In fact, no one says that it's salty at all!
One of the interesting properties of salt is that, if used in the proper quantities, instead of making food taste saltier, it simply enhances the flavors already in it. Putting salt in my rhubarb sauce doesn't make it saltier -- it makes it rhubarbier! Because of this, salt fits into virtually every recipe. I once scanned through a cook book looking for recipes that don't have salt in them. In the entire book, I found only one such recipe.
No wonder Paul wrote this in his letter to the Colossian church:
Paul here compares grace to salt -- just as salt fits into every recipe, grace fits into every conversation. And just as salt brings out the natural flavors of the recipe, grace brings out the very best in every conversation. Even when rebuking, grace must be present in your speech.
In our current society, gracious speech is hard to find -- not only does everyone have an opinion (which is fine) but few people want to express those opinions without putting down and belittling those who disagree with them. In such a society, Christians who are the recipients of the grace of Christ can surely stand out as extraordinarly different, simply through their gracious speech.